While there are some environmental benefits to more trees and green spaces, parks may have a more substantial effect on reducing the impact of the way we live through creating cities where people want to be – anchoring denser, more walkable communities that consume less energy and generate fewer greenhouse gases.
The article mentions several studies have shown that living in more compact settings can reduce emissions from transportation. But assuming this smarter growth pattern, there will be more apartments and townhouses and fewer, smaller private yards. The desire for more trees in the public realm will rise. Residents of yardless dwellings will be anxious to have green spaces and public places to relax, recreate and socialize outdoors. Transit facilities and use will increase, and pedestrian and bikers will want safe routes. For these and many other reasons there will be much more pressure for park systems that are beautiful, well-managed, nearby and accessible.
The article indicates a role of city park systems in studying and setting standards for resident walkability to parks; creating trail systems that allow residents to get around without cars; using parks within new infill development to increase quality of life and draw investment; thinking innovatively about creating new parks (e.g. schoolyards) and lastly, retooling streets and existing parks to improve the public realm.